Enevate’s dense battery tech crams more power into your phone

Although we’ve seen amazing technological progress in mobile devices for the past decade, they’re still held back by portable power. Simply put, changes in battery technology haven’t kept up with the pace of phone and tablet development. Instead, we’ve generally seen a compromise: If you want longer runtime, you need devices with bigger batteries.

Enevate, an Irvine, California–based developer of lithium ion batteries, says that doesn’t have to be the case. The company announced what it calls HD-Energy technology on Tuesday, promising batteries with a 30 percent higher energy density rate over today’s power packs.

enevate battery tech

The secret sauce is in using silicon-dominant anodes, Enevate says.

“While conventional graphite anodes can store 372 mAh/g, pure silicon through an alloying process has the potential to store up to 4200 mAh/g. The self-standing, flexible, and conductive anodes are comprised of majority silicon in a complex micromatrix composite that is 100% active and contains no inactive or ‘dead space’ binders and is engineered for high volume manufacturing. The HD-Energy Technology delivers a high capacity monolithic or “single-particle” anode which enables cell designs today up to 700-800 Wh/L core energy density with cycle life similar to graphite cells.”

If Enevate can deliver on its 30 percent higher energy density rate promise, that means device batteries could be nearly a third smaller without sacrificing run time. Or batteries could retain their current sizes and have a sizable boost in run time on a single charge, something that most people will likely prefer since most screen sizes are growing anyway.

enevate graph

I don’t see a way to purchase batteries directly from Enevate, so I can’t test its claims. I suspect the company would rather work with device makers for large battery orders; perhaps we’ll see Samsung, LG or some other player in the mobile market take Enevate’s battery tech for a spin.

Future gadget batteries could last 10 times longer

Batteries continue to be the bane of mobile devices, but research done at Northwestern University could change that, with longer-lasting batteries that charge in minutes, not hours. Imagine a battery that lasts 10 times longer than today’s power packs with a 15-minute recharge time!

A123 Systems hooks into China’s grid

Only 72 percent of China’s wind-power sources are connected to its grid — meaning there’s a good deal of wind turbines that are spinning that aren’t providing usable clean power. Battery maker A123 Systems hopes its first deal in China can help with that problem.

Report: Johnson Controls Divorcing Saft Over Grid Battery Market

The automotive battery joint venture between Johnson Controls and Saft has gone sour and according to analysts with Needham & Company Johnson Controls is unhappy because the Saft deal is holding it back from the power grid battery market (and Hitachi might be a better partner).

Lithium Ion Batteries Faulted for Jet Crash

A new report on the crash of a UPS jet carrying rechargeable lithium batteries outlines the hazards of transporting these devices. It’s the latest fuel for concern about the safety of lithium ion batteries, which store energy not only for gadgets but also plug-in vehicles.

ActaCell Charges Ahead With New Way to Make Batteries

A new $3 million NIST award could offer a significant boost for Austin, Tex.-based ActaCell, whose backers include Google.org, DFJ Mercury and Applied Ventures. The startup aims to scale up production of its novel nanocomposite material for lithium battery anodes by a factor of 1,000.

Today in Cleantech

Contour Energy Systems — the Caltech battery spinout formerly known as CFX Battery — has launched an opportunistic attack on a niche consumer market right in time for Christmas. The Azusa, Calif.-based company has  a line of disposable coin cell batteries specifically engineered for 3D TV glasses, and promises they’ll last about 60 percent longer than competitors batteries. It’s an opportunistic move because it lies outside Contour’s specialized carbon and fluorine-based chemistry — the 3D glasses batteries are lithium-based — and because they’re not being made at Contour’s own factory, but by an unnamed Chinese manufacturer. Still, it may represent the kind of niche application targeting that battery startups may have to tackle to differentiate themselves from the Energizers and Duracells of the world.